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California State Auditor Report Number : 2015-120

California Department of Transportation
Its Maintenance Division’s Allocations and Spending for Field Maintenance Do Not Match Key Indicators of Need

March 17, 2016 2015-120

The Governor of California
President pro Tempore of the Senate
Speaker of the Assembly
State Capitol
Sacramento, California 95814

Dear Governor and Legislative Leaders:

As requested by the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, the California State Auditor presents this audit report concerning the methods used by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to make spending decisions related to the Maintenance Program (program) and to assess the timeliness and effectiveness of the program’s funding.

This report concludes that the Caltrans division of maintenance’s (maintenance division) allocations and spending for field maintenance do not match key indicators of maintenance need. Specifically, the maintenance division developed a budget model (model) for allocating field maintenance funding based on key indicators of maintenance need such as traffic volume and climate. However, we found that the maintenance division abandoned this approach, and instead has based funding allocations to the 12 Caltrans districts on a simple average of historical spending rather than using level of maintenance performance (service scores) or other information about maintenance need, despite reporting to the Legislature that it was using a more sophisticated method. Additionally, the maintenance division’s current process for evaluating service scores does not provide the same in-depth information as the model would have provided. The maintenance division also does not use the information regarding service scores to strategically plan its work or to inform its funding allocations. Further, the maintenance division cannot demonstrate that it promptly performs certain field maintenance work. Specifically, data indicate that more than 30,000 service requests received by the three districts we audited in fiscal years 2010–11 through 2014–15 remained unresolved for more than 90 days.

Not surprisingly, we found that the maintenance division’s actual spending for field maintenance in the three districts we reviewed was not consistent with key indicators of need—climate and traffic volume. To better align allocations with field maintenance needs we recommend that the Legislature include language in the Budget Act that requires the maintenance division to develop and implement a budget model that takes into account key indicators of field maintenance need, such as traffic volume, climate, service scores, and any other factors it deems necessary. We made additional recommendations to the maintenance division to ensure that it performs field maintenance work consistently on highways with similar needs.

Respectfully submitted,

State Auditor

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